The series finale of Ms. Marvel concluded in a delightfully intimate way, eschewing the awkward, grandiose storytelling of the previous week in favor of a more intimate conflict between Kamala and the Department of Damage Control. Ms. Marvel has thrived in this area from the start, and this is where the season should have been focused.
Kamala Khan immediately struck a chord with the audience. Her devotion to the Avengers and her friendships and family felt authentic; her struggles resembled Peter Parker’s more than Tony Stark’s. This has always been the best perspective for Ms. Marvel stories to take because it offers a glimpse into the Marvel universe from the viewpoint of the typical fan.
Therefore, the series lost some of its luster and, as a result, its relatability when it began to elaborate on the significant and grand backstory behind Kamala’s powers. It’s similar to looking into the spider that bit Peter Parker; what interests us more than the grand narrative of how these young protagonists become extraordinary is what they do with their newly acquired skills and responsibilities. How does this affect their social life? How do they balance their superhero work with more realistic, teen-specific issues while maintaining a double life? Kamala and Peter stand out because they are able to investigate these factors in a more sincere manner.
Kamala’s family trip to Pakistan served as a warning that it was forgoing that more personal storytelling in favor of setting some enormous, potentially world-altering stakes. Kamala’s adventure started off feeling a little more grounded, but she was quickly snatched up by a powerful secret organization. Although raising the stakes and action level isn’t always a bad thing, they should make the most of her special position to explore more intimate stories. But that’s not why Kamala is so appealing; many other heroes are capable of defeating such opulent dangers.
At the very least, there needs to be some sort of buildup before responding to threats of this nature. For his first solo adventures, Peter Parker had to battle the father of his homecoming date and a crazy effects guy while on vacation. He then had a multiversal accident. While Ms. Marvel didn’t immediately address a crisis on the scale of Thanos, the show largely skipped over more regional problems and problems associated with being an unpopular high school student. Kamala was put back on the path toward joining the Young Avengers or taking on Kang the Conqueror in the Ms. Marvel finale by remembering that she is still a “friendly neighborhood” kind of hero.
The Department of Damage Control, not the djinn, was Kamala’s greatest foe. They wanted to apprehend a young metahuman they believed to be dangerous; in the process, they targeted and showed disrespect to her friends and family. They weren’t interested in her abilities or extraterrestrial teleportation. After learning to control her abilities, Kamala attempted to prevent Damage Control from capturing her friend while minimizing collateral damage before being protected by the very group of people she belongs to. A fitting and succinct way to convey the symbiotic relationship the show should have focused on more is having them defend her after she helped them. No amount of force, prejudice, or government oversight can overcome the connections she’s made in her own neighborhood. The focus on relatively minor stakes that are significant to the protagonist is the ultimate manifestation of her (and the show’s) strongest suit.
After the conclusion of the series served as such a powerful reminder of how great these smaller stories can be, Ms. Marvel should have focused more on Kamala’s early superhero days in New Jersey. Given her role in The Marvels and the shocking information about her DNA that was revealed at the end of the season finale, Kamala’s future is likely to be a little more grand, but Marvel Studios needs to let Kamala be a teen as well as a superhero before she becomes a key figure in the MCU.